Unveiling a New Touch Point
by Andy Holtmann
Unveiling a New Touch Point
Gaming, hospitality industries to serve as launch vehicles for Microsoft’s Surface computing
In late-May, Microsoft Corp. unveiled its Microsoft Surface, the first product in a new category of surface computing products. Microsoft Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
The interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.
“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “We see this as a multi-billion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”
Surface computing, which Microsoft has been working on for a number of years, features four key attributes:
Direct interaction—Users can actually “grab” digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard;
Multi-touch—Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger like a typical touch-screen, but up to dozens of items at once;
Multi-user—The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience; and
Object recognition—Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.
The technology has already drawn interest from gaming and hospitality companies. Harrah’s Entertainment, International Game Technology and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. will be among the first to utilize Surface.
At Harrah’s, guests will be able to use Surface to explore the wide variety of dining, entertainment, night life and gaming experiences available at its network of area casinos. Using the interactive virtual concierge, guests can reserve tickets to a concert, review restaurant menus, take a tour of the world-famous PURE nightclub, book a luxurious spa treatment or redeem Total Rewards loyalty program credits for a broad range of merchandise. The virtual concierge can also directly connect users to amenities available at any of Harrah’s seven Las Vegas casinos, allowing guests to “visit” multiple venues and plan their itineraries without ever getting up from their table.
“Microsoft Surface is a great way to help our guests get the most out of their trips to Las Vegas by putting all the offerings and experiences we make available at their fingertips,” said Tim Stanley, Harrah’s chief information officer and senior vice president of innovation, gaming and IT.
Through International Game Technology, Surface will also be made available to the gaming industry through a distribution and development agreement.